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Law Soc pulls sexist Sharia wills guidance

(9 Posts)
Greengrow Mon 24-Nov-14 21:33:13

Good news below:

"Law Society backs down on Sharia wills
Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society, said the guidance was withdrawn 'in the light of criticism'
Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society, said the guidance was withdrawn 'in the light of criticism'

Controversial guidance on how to draft “Sharia-compliant” wills has been withdrawn after widespread criticism that it was discriminatory.

The Law Society has decided to pull its guide for solicitors across England and Wales on Sharia succession rules under which women would be denied an equal share of their inheritance and non-believers excluded entirely.

Children born outside marriage and adopted children could also be discriminated against. The guidance advised solicitors that “illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs” and that “the male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir”.

It also stated that “non-Muslims may not inherit at all” and that “a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir”.

Andrew Caplen, president of the society, which represents 130,000 solicitors in England and Wales, said: “Our practice note was intended to support members to better serve their clients as far as is allowed by the law of England and Wales. We reviewed the note in the light of criticism. We have withdrawn the note and we are sorry.”

A society press officer said: “The Sharia practice note was intended to support members to better serve clients who had asked for their assets to be distributed in accordance with Sharia succession principles, as far as is allowed by the law of England and Wales.”

The move comes after pressure from the National Secular Society (NSS) and the Lawyers Secular Society. It also comes after the solicitors’ standards watchdog, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), deleted references to the guidance from its website.

Solicitors acting on behalf of Southall Black Sisters and One Law for All, a campaign against Sharia, threatened legal action on gender equality grounds on the basis that the SRA is a public authority under the Equality Act 2010.

The NSS objected on the ground that it encouraged discrimination, “legitimised Sharia” and was religious, rather than legal, advice.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the NSS, said: “This is an important reversal for what had seemed to be the relentless march of Sharia to becoming de facto British law.

“Until now, politicians and the legal establishment either encouraged this process or spinelessly recoiled from acknowledging what was happening.

“This is particularly good news for women who fare so badly under Sharia, which is a non-democratically determined, non-human rights compliant and discriminatory code”. "

YonicScrewdriver Sat 29-Nov-14 21:15:53

Good, thanks G.

Cherriesandapples Sat 29-Nov-14 21:18:46

Thank goodness for the Southall Black Sisters and the others.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sat 29-Nov-14 21:30:10

Good stuff.

PetraArkanian Sat 29-Nov-14 21:37:03

Here is the thing though... It won't stop a single person who wants a sharia compliant will from getting one. You can write whatever you want in your will... So if you say you want to leave everything to your sons and nothing to your daughters you can. All that will happen is that people will go to the lawyer and say that these are the rules please write my will around them

KERALA1 Sat 29-Nov-14 21:41:41

Yes but at least not endorsed/supported by the law society. Who at the law society thought this guidance a good idea in the first place? Staggering.

RexMottramsTortoise Sat 29-Nov-14 21:47:43

Well the Law Society is a secular body and should give secular advice so this is the right response. But you can write whatever you want in your will and this has always been the case, so I don't understand what Keith Porteous Wood is saying about Sharia becoming de facto British law. For centuries, lots of landed estates didn't pass to women and that was a long time before there were any Muslims in Britain.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 30-Nov-14 12:16:44

I agree that it is still perfectly possible to write and adopted child out of a will, should you subsequently have 'natural' children I'm looking at you, Uncle. However, this is not illegal in the UK. You can write whoever you like into or out of a will in the UK.

The difference is that there will be no guidance which suggests that doing this is ok in some way. If people want to write sharia complaint wills, they can, their secular lawyer will simply not have religious guidance with which to write it.

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